Should I be switching to Linux Hosting?
If you have done your research on web hosting than you have probably heard the term Linux hosting dropped occasionally in the web hosting channels. There are a ton of website hosting services out there, but few of them really go into the difference between Windows hosting and Linux hosting. There definitely IS a difference, but don’t get frustrated with your old hosting service if they never broached the topic with you, because for many users the differences aren’t important.
Still, that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant to you. So let’s go through a few of those differences now. First though, it’s important to note that the computer accessing the hosted site has nothing to do with the type of server hosting the site. That is to say, any computer will be able to access any site regardless of if the site is being hosted by Windows or Linux.
In addition all hosting comes with FTP access and a variety of publishing options, which is why many users are oblivious to whether they are hosted on a Linux or Windows server. Likewise, the difference should not be seen as strictly a difference between beginners and experts. While it may be true that Linux software is more technical than Windows as an operating system, both server styles have packages for beginners and advanced users, making the experience gap consistently less relevant.
While we are on the subject of operating systems, it is important that you leave your operating system allegiances aside when choosing the ideal hosting server for your site, as they are not only irrelevant, but may also be misleading about the nature of Windows’ and Linux’s relationship when it comes to web building and hosting.
The primary difference between Linux and Windows for hosting is that Linux supports more advanced developmental tools and therefore most users technically benefit more from having a Linux account than a windows account. However this is hardly universally true, and it depends a lot on your ability to make the best use of the languages that Linux does well, the applications it has access to, and the development tools it gives you access to. Casual users may not access many of those developmental tools, in which case they do not factor in, and if you are already familiar with Windows then that should factor into any decisions to switch.
If you handle website development, or have someone who does that for you, utilizing any of the following programing languages, than you would be better off with a Linux account to the advanced developmental tools available: WordPress, CGI, Dreamweaver, PHP, MySQL, Python, Peri. On the other hand, there are certain programing languages and services that are designed to be hosted on a Windows server, most notably ASP and MS version of SQL.
In general, you want to choose the server that best supports the language or languages you will be using. So if, for instance, your plan was to create a web blog using WordPress, then you would be best suited to have your site hosted by Linux. However if your entire site was being designed in ASP then it would need to be a Windows site. It’s also worth noting there are applications that are specific to both systems.
While you may be able to find an alternative to that Windows app you really wanted to integrate into your Linux site, you will not be able to use it directly without switching to Windows. For these reasons it is helpful to get a good idea of what you plan to do before deciding whether to go with Windows or Linux.
In terms of raw advantage, Windows tends to work better with Windows applications on the operating system, making it the superior choice for integrating these elements. Windows also has a reputation for superior searchable database integration. However, these benefits come at major cost in terms of usability. Linux is widely accepted to be more stable, reliable, and efficient than Windows as a hosting server, meaning that if you need your website to be fully functional 24-7 there is an argument to choosing Linux strictly for stability, and if you’re looking for cheaper website elements to integrate into your own site, Linux has more open source material, whereas most of what you will find for Windows is licensed.